More to the story: Whitehorse elaborates
Upon hearing the news of Melbourne, Australia’s Grade 1 City of Whitehorse Pipe Band’s decision to rescind its membership with both the Victorian Pipe Band Association and Pipe Bands Australia, pipes|drums immediately requested Pipe-Major George Shepherd to elaborate on the suspensions and his band’s decision to leave.
Shepherd responded approximately 24 hours later with the following lengthy summary of his perspective on the matter, which we publish in full below.
The issue revolves around a photo of Pipe Bands Australia adjudicator Nat Russell allegedly posing with a band that he has adjudicated in the past while wearing a baseball cap with the band’s logo. The photo was published on City of Whitehorse’s “private” Facebook page, with allegedly disparaging comments.
Following a formal complaint, Pipe Bands Australia investigated the matter and subsequently suspended five City of Whitehorse members, according to Shepherd, “the author of the post who shared the photo in the private group, a person who ‘liked’ the photo and three others who commented.” Among the suspended are Shepherd (24 months) and Leading-Drummer Olav Goud (12 months).
To provide better context to the story, we requested a copy of the photograph in question, but Shepherd was not willing to provide it.
The issue of “private” or “closed” groups on Facebook was brought to light in a 2010 article in PC Magazine that attempts to debunk the premise that anything on Facebook is truly private.
The matter of pipe band judges wearing merchandise and sometimes even the kilt of bands that they adjudicate has been a topic of conversation and consternation since the dawn of pipe band competitions. Some associations advise in their written or verbal code of conduct that adjudicators should avoid such appearances of conflict of interest.
To our knowledge, no association actually requires judges not to be seen wearing competitors’ merchandise.
Following is the full statement to pipes|drums from George Shepherd. All emboldened text is Shepherd’s.